How to Get Your Mind Right in the Pool

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.

You can’t always change your coach. You can’t change the pool you train in. And you can’t control what the swimmer in the lane next to you does.

But you can control your attitude.

Here are a few suggestions for helping you to get your mind right when you’re stuck in a wrong situation.

Focus on the stuff that is positive.

There is always going to be things to be grateful for, things that you can lean back and look at and say, “I am rather stoked with this.”

Even though one or two parts of your training is causing you difficulty, and leading you to feel like your whole life is caving in, don’t allow them to overshadow the positive aspects of your swimming.

Make the choice to be positive.

At the end of the day, remember that having a good attitude is a choice. It’s not something bestowed upon you. Yes, circumstances will suck from time to time.

But guess what?

Even though it might not feel like it, everyone else is fighting their own battles as well—what differentiates those who make the best of it and those who let their circumstances define them is that they make a conscious decision to seek out the positives in their struggle.

You don’t have to like what you are going through, but you sure can act to make the best of it.

SEE ALSO: The Swim Meet Warm-Up: What You Need to Know About Swimming Fast When it Matters Most

Wear the struggle like a badge of honor.

As an age grouper we trained in the local community pool, usually 6-8 of us in the gutter lane. In the next lane over the synchro team would blast their underwater speakers, while banging what I can only imagine was a cast-iron spoon against the pool ladder hanging over our lane (usually to an Enya song of some sort).

The pool was so dark that once my goggles got even a little fogged up I couldn’t make out the hands on the pace clock. Sometimes we even got to use backstroke flags. (The water slide in the shallow end was right by the flag pole, so if public swim was going on = no flags.)

Meanwhile, our main competitors trained out of brightly lit, 50 meter luxury resorts, err, pools.

While we grumbled about having to hear “Sail Away” for the 118th time that week (seriously, I hear that song and all that goes through my head is the loud clanging of spoon on ladder), our coach emphasized that it would make us stronger, more resilient, and more prepared when it came to competition time.

After all, he would tell us, we could walk onto any pool deck, anytime, anywhere, and the conditions couldn’t possibly be worse than what we were experiencing.

So yeah, you might be going through some stuff. But if you plow right through it, you will come out on the other side of it tougher and better prepared.

Be contagious.

You ever notice that when a teammate starts complaining mid-set that it starts to rub off on you a little bit? Even if you weren’t feeling negatively beforehand, and no matter how much you say the complaints of others wash off of you, its almost impossible not to have that negativity get Inception’d into your brain.

The next time that happens, or even the next time you feel the urge to belt out a big old grumble-grumble, decide to be the swimmer that turns it around. That instead of getting down and mopey provide encouragement and a positive environment. You don’t even necessarily to have to believe it to make it work.

The way you feel is influenced by your thoughts (and actions), so start out by thinking and talking positive, and your feeling thingies will follow suit.

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You can also get out of the pool to pee.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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